- Story: Kurt Busiek
- Art: Benjamin Dewey
- Colors: Jordie Bellaire
- Letters: John Roshell, Jimmy Betancourt
- Publisher: Image Comics
Dunstan takes centre stage in issue four of The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw as we watch the terrier interact with the Champion and discuss his worries about the machinations of Goodfoot and Sandhorst. The young anthro dog recounts a bat attack from the night before, how his fellow survivor’s continue to question Gharta’s wisdom, and we get to see a brief moment of respite for the lad as he loses himself running alongside the patrolling Champion. Half of the issue is shown from Dusty’s perspective, giving us a glimpse into the state of affairs from a person who is not a mighty warrior or a scheming wizard, but a young man who just wants everything to be okay.
The other major character in this issue is Goodfoot, the coyote trader who we saw speaking to the bison leader Seven-Scars at the end of the last issue. Here, that meeting is shown in flashback and we come to learn the wily coyote (pun very much intended) is playing the chieftain as much as she is playing the survivors. All she wants are the spoils of magic laying about the ruined city that will allow her to live in the lap of luxury once she is able to flee with her bounty. Everyone else is just collateral damage and it looks like the Champion may be as hapless and unobservant as the rest. Will she get away with her plan? Not if Dusty has anything to say about it.
Issue four felt a bit like filler, another book that is setting up for something big to occur in the following issue. Obviously that is the nature of story, especially in a medium that takes that story and slices it into chunks, but I did not feel the immediacy that I have felt in other issues here. In a way that’s good, it allows for breathing room and gives the reader a break from biting their fingernails in wait, I just didn’t feel as invested in this issue as the others. That being said, there remained some great stuff here nonetheless.
The stand-out would be when Dusty and the Champion come upon a bison settlement. All the men are gone, leaving the women to gather plants and the children to herd animals. They are half-starved and their beasts are not much better. The realization is clear on the terrier’s face that what he was told about the bison by his father was a lie. It showcases that these are a people who are not simply monsters or seeking revenge, but perhaps fighting to survive as well. War, as always, is never so black and white.
Another great sequence is Goodfoot’s conversations, both with Seven-Scars and the Champion. She is a fast talker who is used to swindling, cheating, and lying her way to riches and she has no qualms about playing the bison and wizards off of each other. Her interaction with Seven-Scars is a great contrast with the Champion, however, as she easily manoeuvres around the bison chieftain while being taken off-guard by the man trying to protect the survivors. To see her go from silver-tongued to confused and wary is a nice little change to see play out.
The art continues to please; the facial expressions standing out for me even more this time around. There are a couple instances in particular with a smiling Sandhorst and owl girl that are incredibly well done and any close up of Goodfoot is always a treat. There is also a walking chair that is used by the Champion as a steed and I have to applaud Benjamin Dewey for making that look as realistic as he could without it being too silly. It is still a bit amusing, but hey, there are talking giraffes walking around who can wield magic so who am I to judge.
Issue four of The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw is another great read that builds off of the last issue while still giving you time to breathe. It feels a little static with any action being shown through flashback thus stripping it of its spontaneity, but to compensate we are given a deeper look at each of the antagonists overall goals. It definitely entices the reader to check out what’s to come and I anxiously await the parley between Seven-Scars and the Champion next issue. Here’s hoping Goodfoot isn’t as safe as she assumes.
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